UNWILLING to host a repeat of its disastrous launch on the Shenzhen route last year, in which 150 VIPs were kept waiting for hours, organisers of a new Turbo Cat service between Hong Kong and Macau kept the luxury passenger ferry firmly at its moorings.
Several hundred VIPs and press gathered yesterday to view the new high-speed ferry, which, if it does not get delayed by the rubbish in Victoria Harbour, is set to compete with Hong Kong Jetfoils for the top spot on the Hong Kong-Macau route.
However, the owners of the new Turbo Cat service, CTS-Parkview, say that, unlike the Jetfoils, they will not be using on-board betting to attract customers.
Three Norwegian-built Flying Cat Catamarans will begin plying the 60-kilometre route between the two territories tomorrow morning, with the promise of ''new standards of comfort and luxury'' for passengers on the 70-minute service.
The 266-seat catamarans, which travel at a maximum of 37 knots, offer video entertainment, hot meals, wide seats and a bar service.
And, although Eddie Chow Wai-kwong, general manager of CTS-Parkview, said the Turbo Cat service was ''not competing with existing ferry operators'', the pricing structure for economy class - at $85 weekdays and $93 weekends plus tax - is identical to theJetfoil economy fares.
Although first class - at $185 weekdays and $193 weekends plus tax - is substantially more expensive than the Jetfoil first class fare of $100 and $108, drinks are free and there is more elbow-room.